Thank you to the publisher, Harlequin Trade Publishing/ Graydon House, for inviting me to be a part of this exciting Blog Tour for Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Doan, and for the eARC of this title via NetGalley.
Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Doan
On Sale Date: June 29, 2021
Publisher: Graydon House
ISBN: 9781525804670, 1525804677
Genres: Fiction / Women/ Coming of Age
My rating: 5/5 🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡
ONE ICONIC FAMILY. ONE SUMMER OF SECRETS. THE DAZZLING SPIRIT OF 1970S CALIFORNIA.
For Jackie Pierce, everything changed the summer of 1979, when she spent three months of infinite freedom at her bohemian uncle’s sprawling estate on the California coast. As musicians, artists, and free spirits gathered at The Sandcastle for the season in pursuit of inspiration and communal living, Jackie and her cousin Willa fell into a fast friendship, testing their limits along the rocky beach and in the wild woods… until the summer abruptly ended in tragedy, and Willa silently slipped away into the night.
Twenty years later, Jackie unexpectedly inherits The Sandcastle and returns to the iconic estate for a short visit to ready it for sale. But she reluctantly extends her stay when she learns that, before her death, her estranged aunt had promised an up-and-coming producer he could record a tribute album to her late uncle at the property’s studio. As her musical guests bring the place to life again with their sun-drenched beach days and late-night bonfires, Jackie begins to notice startling parallels to that summer long ago. And when a piece of the past resurfaces and sparks new questions about Willa’s disappearance, Jackie must discover if the dark secret she’s kept ever since is even the truth at all.
This story is awash with summer, reminding me of those summers of childhood where the season seems endless when school’s out, but time suddenly speeds up as the number of carefree sunny days dwindles with the new autumn lesson term looming.
Jackie Pierce and her cousin Willa are not children this particular summer; they are 17 when the story begins and Lady Sunshine is a story of a summer where everything changes. Twenty years later Jackie returns to the place she left behind, along with her memories of friendship, love and loss.
It’s 1979, and Jackie is spending her last summer of high school at The Sandcastle, the home of her Uncle Graham, a 1960s famous folk singer. Jackie, glad to be escaping from the conformist life she usually follows with her father and stepmother, enjoys the free-spirited circle of artists, musicians and friends that knocks about at her Uncle Graham’s, at The Sandcastle on the California coast. That’s when she meets her cousin, Willa. Twenty years later, Uncle Graham is long dead, as is her cousin Willa. Jackie inherits the house, the grounds, the studio and all the memories they all left behind. She’s back for one final summer, the summer of 1999, to pack everything up and sell The Sandcastle. She decides to lengthen her stay when she finds out that her estranged aunt promised an up-and-coming producer he could record a tribute album to her Uncle Graham at The Sandcastle’s studio.
This is such a fantastic summer read! I could feel the heat of the long-ago summer and hear the sound of the rolling surf so richly described by Amy Mason Doan. The story ambles along at a steady pace, building slowly at the beginning, then once the end of both summers, 1979 and 1999 are on the horizon, the pace picks up as Jackie in her identity of a young woman and then when she is twenty years older, relives the bitter sweetness of the remaining days. I enjoyed the air of mystery that has a major presence throughout the story as much as the complex, nuanced characters. Waiting to discover what that mystery thing might turn out to be added intrigue to this compelling tale. When Jackie finally faces her issues and the past head-on, it facilitates a marvellous ending for this whole emotional journey. Very highly recommended.
A special thank you to Graydon House and the author for a complimentary copy of this novel at my request, received via NetGalley. This review is my unbiased opinion.
About the Author
AMY MASON DOAN is the author of The Summer List and Summer Hours. She earned a BA in English from UC Berkeley and an MA in journalism from Stanford University, and has written for The Oregonian, San Francisco Chronicle, and Forbes, among other publications. She grew up in Danville, California, and now lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and daughter.
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Until Next Time,